30 May 2019

Kenya: Hope for Farmers as China Avocado Deal 'Under Review'

Photo: Ndung'u Gachane/Daily Nation
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri hands over avocado and macadamia tree seedlings to farmers at Koimbi grounds in Kiharu, Murang'a County, on May 30, 2019.

The deal for the exportation of avocados to China is being reviewed to the advantage of Kenyan farmers, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri said on Thursday.

The CS said that stringent entry rules, such as installation of machines and coolers for peeling and freezing the Hass avocados before exportation, had been revoked by the Chinese government.

"We have heard the cry of farmers across the country and have initiated talks with the Chinese government, which has agreed to review the deal to ensure no single avocado farmer is locked out," Mr Kiunjuri said.

He noted that the Kenyan government will see to it that the deal is favourable to farmers and is governed by regulations that will attract more of them.

Mr Kiunjuri added that the review will lock out middlemen whom he accused of exploiting farmers for long. He said farmers will sell their produce through properly structured cooperatives.

WORRY

Small scale farmers had expressed concerns about the deal which President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping sealed on April 25.

They had complained that the strict regulations would keep them off thereby frustrating the agreement and causing it to collapse.

China had wanted Kenyan farmers and traders to freeze the fruits to -30 degrees Celsius after peeling off the skin and further chill them to -18 degrees for transportation.

They claimed the conditions favoured large scale farmers with huge financial muscle and easy access to markets.

SEEDLINGS

The CS addressed farmers in Kiharu and Kangema, Murang'a County, while officiating the release of Hass avocado and macadamia tree seedlings to them.

Mr Kiunjuri said the ministry aims to distribute 10 million Hass avocado seedlings by the end of the year. More than 30,000 have been distributed in Murang'a.

While adding that the ministry will also supply hybrid coffee and tea seedlings, he asked MPs to register farmers who would like to receive them for improved yields.

He said 16 counties had benefited from the distribution of 4.2 million tea seedlings and that by the end of the rainy season, more than six million will have been supplied.

Regarding pay, he said, "I direct the KTDA to pay tea farmers Sh20 per kilo of tea leaves."

He said meetings will be held to ensure the directive is adhered to.

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